Number of cyclists seriously injured in Manitoba increased in 2015

Cyclists hospitalized by road injuries increased 19 per cent last year in Manitoba, a Canadian Institute for Health Information study shows.

The number of cyclists sent to hospital for a stay -- not just to the emergency ward and released -- climbed from 100, to 119 in 2014-15.

As bad as that sounds, the rate is actually an improvement over both 2011-12 and 1012-13, when 138 and 133 cyclists had stays in hospitals due to road injuries.

Serious injuries while cycling also jumped sharply in Saskatchewan (33 per cent), British Columbia (16 per cent), and Nova Scotia (15 per cent).

Cycling injuries are still too high, said Mark Cohoe, executive director of cycling advocacy group, Bike Winnipeg.

"The number one reason (for cycling collisions) is really just people not paying attention," said Cohoe. That includes cyclists as well as drivers.

"We're getting more texting while driving. Texting has overtaken drunk driving as the main cause of collisions" according to insurance statistics, Cohoe said.

Zach Fleisher, 23, recently wound up in hospital with a mild concussion when he hit a pothole "and went flying."

"I tasted concrete. The helmet saved my life," he said.

"It's my fault but I mean, what you see in other jurisdictions is they keep streets up to grade. You shouldn't be at risk."

Cohoe said better road design would go a long way to preventing collisions, like the bike lanes on Sherbrook Street, where bike lanes are between the parking lane and curb. Cement blocks divide the bike lanes from parking lanes.

Portland, Oregon, is regarded as a leader in urban cycling. Bike collisions have stayed the same or dropped, while the number of cyclists has risen, Cohoe said.

Manitoba Public Insurance figures for 2010-14 show Redwood and Main to be the worst intersection for cyclists with seven crashes. Next highest is the five crashes at five intersections: Arlington and Logan; Dalhousie and Pembina; Main and Sutherland; Moray and Portage; and Sherbrook and Westminster.